I had an interesting conversation about bringing up children. I have one son and was speaking with another father who has two girls. He was reading The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre. I had some experience having read Dr. James Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys. While I would think a liberal Newsweek writer and a conservative radio host would differ on the topics, I was surprised to find many similarities between the contents of both books (I haven’t read the Tyre book and am basing this on just one discussion).
Both books point to the growing divide between boys and girls in our education system. They draw similar conclusions – schools are not friendly to the way boys learn. As a result, boys reach high school disconnected from the system. When girls are beginning to soar in their educational pursuits, boys have already made the decision to trudge onward or give up.
As marketers, are we building a similar system for our digital communications? Are we allowing some of our customers to trudge onward while others are encouraged to give up? If we’re doing our job right, yes.
The idea behind responsible marketing is to encourage the best customers and pay little attention to the others. The Pareto rule in action. However, are we abandoning customers that can become part of the 20%?
This is the idea behind our conversations on engagement. Digital excels in building engagement. Dynamic banners are becoming the norm with video beginning to crack the mainstream. However, engagement has stretched far beyond simple awareness. Engagement now drives intent. Engagement results in sales.
It comes down to building a conducive environment for all customers to do business with you. We need to eliminate the mindset of building walled gardens. There is no start and end date to interactive campaigns. When we build microsites and landing pages, they live on indefinitely. They may be stored in emails or bookmarked in browsers. This may be your customer’s path to your business. Working under a model that encourages conformance leaves some customers with no choice but to give up. And in today’s markets, there are plenty of options waiting at the other end of the Google pipeline to service needs.
We need to start thinking about the long term implications of every campaign. What happens if a customer clicks from an email a year down the line? What happens if they bookmark a page we intend to live for only two weeks? How can these small events become part of a larger whole? Yesterday’s offer may have passed, but today offers new opportunities. Rather than drawing a line in the sand, let’s encourage our customers to engage. This involves attention to the entire communication stream. Every message, every page, every ad and every offer should focus long term. Otherwise, we could be encouraging half our customers to give up and look for something more engaging.